It's a lesson in problem solving, although it looks like more fun than the description may sound. At its most basic level, it's pingpong balls and a robot kit.
It's officially called Botball, a competition in which teams of high school students build and program their robots to grab the items they get points for and discard or avoid the items for which they get nothing. After winning the Midwest Regional Competition in Terre Haute, Ind., a team from Edwardsville High School will head to the nationals, being held in San Jose, Calif, July 26-29.
The team lost in the first round of the double-elimination tournament, then won eight straight times to take the title.
The competition begins with a kit the teams must assemble, applying what they've learned in a wide range of classroom settings. "We take a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching robotics," said Jerry Weinberg, associate professor of Computer Science. Weinberg uses robotics as a means of teaching SIUE students majoring in different aspects of engineering to communicate better with each other and improve their problem-solving skills.
The Botball collaboration with Edwardsville High School grew out of the School of Engineering's annual Robotics Competition. Weinberg and EHS Math teacher Scott Hagin will accompany their team to San Jose. They will spend the next few weeks getting their team ready and raising funds from the trip.
Team members include: Kush Patel, John Meehan, Matt Schweiker, and Mike Behum. "(Robot building) allows the students to apply all they have learned in math, logic, physics, and other classes," Hagin said. "They will be better problem-solvers, because they will understand better how to think across disciplines."
Aside from teaching a cross-disciplinary approach, Weinberg said robotics brings one other advantage to the classroom. "With robotics, students can see the immediate results of their work," he said. "They design, build and program their robot. Then they put it on the obstacle course and see how it performs."
Elliott Lessen, dean of the School of Education, has announced the second class of "Dean's Dozen" members.
Members of the second Dean's Dozen class, a select group of undergraduate students representing the five departments in the School of Education, are: Chris Brown of Shiloh, Heather Dale of Forsyth, Margaret Eccher of Mount Olive, Christopher Gentry of Bethalto, April Logan of Godfrey, Jennifer Moehrs of Waterloo, Jill Moennig of Brussels, Leslie McGuire of Farina, Lindsey Pembrook of Bunker Hill, Anne Schomber of Belleville, Andrea Streckfuss of Granite City, and Mary E. Witte of Normal.
The Dean's Dozen will serve as student representatives on behalf of the school, with on-going responsibilities that include assisting with recruitment and retention of students and faculty, representing the school at various campus functions, providing peer mentoring, and serving as ambassadors of goodwill for the School of Education.
The students were chosen from a substantial number of applicants by a selection committee comprised of undergraduate program directors from each department within the School. Associate Dean Lela DeToye said, "the entire selection process was difficult as all of the applicants showed genuine interest and a variety of strengths."
Robert Vincent Remini, a history professor emeritus at the University of Illinois-Chicago and official historian for that campus, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during SIUE's recent commencement exercises. In addition, John Baricevic, chairman of the St. Clair County Board for the past 14 years, received a Distinguished Service Award.
Distinguished Service Awards have been given for more than 35 years at SIUE to those who have performed outstanding or unusual service to the university, the region, or the state. Honorary degrees have been awarded for more than 40 years to those who have made significant contributions to cultural, educational, scientific, economic, social, or humanitarian fields, or other worthy fields of endeavor.
Remini is regarded as America's premier historian of the Jacksonian political era and of Andrew Jackson himself. In addition to his definitive works on Jackson, Remini, an award-winning author, has written biographies of John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Martin Van Buren, and Daniel Webster. A member of the faculty at the U of I-Chicago since its inception in 1965, Remini earned a bachelor's at Fordham University and went on to receive a master's and a doctorate from Columbia University.
After earning a juris doctor from SIUC, Baricevic served as the St. Clair County state's attorney from 1980-1990 and was named county board chairman in 1990. He is retiring this year from the board. Baricevic also is in private practice specializing in family law, criminal law, and personal injury litigation.
Baricevic has been instrumental in promoting regionalism in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area, investing enormous amounts of time energy in a variety of projects to insure that the interests and welfare of Metro-East residents-one-quarter of the St. Louis region's population-will be provided for in planning decisions regarding the wider metropolitan area.
On June 10 the Department of Theater and Dance will take audiences back to the time of duck tails, pony tails, and saddle shoes with the Summer ShowBiz 2004 production of Grease. The show is part of the SummerArts 2004 program.
Set in 1959, Grease tells the story of what happens to "summer love" between Danny and Sandy at Rydell High. Originally penned as a satire on the music and morals of the 1950s, Grease has continued to be a long-time musical hit from the Broadway stage.
Director Peter Cocuzza, an associate professor of theater and dance, says the stage version of Grease is very different from the 1978 film of the same name starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. "About half the songs in the movie were not in the play and the music had more of a '60s, '70s type of sound," Cocuzza explains. "The music in the stage version is more 'doo-wop.' "
Grease was first produced on the SIUE stage in 1990 and the current Summer Showbiz production has turned out to be a walk down memory lane in more ways than one for Professor C. Otis Sweezey. As costume designer for the current production and set designer for the previous, Sweezey knew where to start his research for the designs-his days as a high school student on Long Island in Freeport, N.Y. "I got out my old yearbook, not quite '59, and there was a lot of nostalgia for me," Sweezey said.
"They were all there-the cheerleaders, the good looking kids, and the nerds." And the two main groups from the play were there, too, Sweezey said. "The greasers, the gang type guys, the pink ladies, and the rebel girls."
Those were the days when everybody wore "big hair." And the 25-member cast will be wearing it along with penny loafers, bobby socks, and poodle skirts. "It's going to be a traditional production of the play," Cocuzza says, "but we're going to put our stamp on the set."
Cocuzza said the "greased lightnin' " car has been found and the search is on for "local connections, photos to help localize the set from the '50s in Edwardsville," he explained. "And, we're going to use video projection to help out scenically."
The set designer for this production is Roger Speidel, an instructor in the department. He'll also be onstage singing one of the most memorable songs from the play, Teen Angel.
Grease will run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, June 10-12, and June 17-19, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 13 and 20. For more information or to order tickets, call (618) 650-2774, or, from St. Louis toll-free, (888) 328-5168, Ext. 2774. SummerArts 2004 is presented by the SIUE College of Art & Sciences.
Anne Schomber of Belleville, a senior studying Kinesiology and Health Education, is the first recipient of the Cpl. Evan T. James Memorial Scholarship, to be given annually through the School of Education.
The scholarship was created by the parents of U.S. Marine Cpl. Evan James, Mike and Donna James of LaHarpe. Evan James was a former SIUE student who drowned in a canal during the fighting in Iraq in March 2003. James served with the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, based in Peoria. He was studying Kinesiology at SIUE when he was deployed overseas.
Schomber, who is working toward a bachelor of science in Kinesiology, is an enthusiastic participant in fitness and wellness activities, competing in several running races in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. Teachers say Schomber is an articulate student, who is well prepared for classes and genuinely interested in her education.
A member of the SIUE Kinesiology Student Association, Schomber has participated in fitness testing for the Highland School District and SIUE's two annual fitness activities-Fall for Fitness Day and Valentine's Fitness Day.
During the past year, she has been employed by SIUE's Student Fitness Center as a weight room attendant. Schomber assists SIUE students, faculty, staff, and alumni Fitness Center members in developing exercise programs.
The $500 scholarship is to be given annually to an SIUE undergraduate studying Kinesiology and who possesses traits that James aspired to, including: commitment to fitness and wellness and enjoyment of outdoor adventure experiences. Nominations come from faculty in the SIUE Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, with winners determined by the department's executive committee.
The smell of paint and the occasional knocking of hammers blends with the voices of students huddled in available conference rooms. Marcia Maurer, dean of the School of Nursing, sometimes winces, sometimes smiles at the evidence of progress.
In less than a year under Maurer, the School of Nursing has begun to revamp its curriculum, remodel its offices, and increase its presence in the communities it serves.
"There are exciting changes taking place in the nursing profession," Maurer said during a break from a graduate faculty retreat. "The SIUE School of Nursing is taking steps to be at the forefront of those changes in terms of the kind of education we provide to nurses entering the field, nurses looking to complete their bachelor's, and nurses needing a certificate or master's program in anticipation of entry into some of the new career opportunities that are developing for nursing professionals."
The school has begun to offer nurse management certificate programs designed to benefit nurses who aspire to management positions, and nurse managers who wish to enhance their management skills. An accelerated bachelor's program is awaiting final approval and could begin in Fall 2005. The Springfield program will expand, with four master's majors being added. The undergraduate curriculum is undergoing a change, shifting from what Maurer calls a "medical model" to a "nursing model."
"Under our new approach, there will be less lecturing and more active student participation," Maurer said. "Students will be more accountable for their own education. It will be more of a case study and discussion style of learning."
To accommodate the shift, a new staff person will be hired to coordinate patient simulator learning. The patient simulators are computerized mannequins designed to mimic illness and injury, and respond to treatment by a nurse. Also, a pilot program will begin in the fall, in which nursing students will receive Palm Pilots that will be used to track assignments. And, to distinguish the school and its students, the SIUE School of Nursing has adopted new student uniforms and a new slogan, "The nursing gem of Southern Illinois."
The school also began a new recruiting campaign last year that has resulted in one of the largest spring semester (2004) enrollments in the last five years. "Everyone knows there is a national nursing shortage," said Maurer, who served as associate dean in Nursing and director of Graduate Programs at Loyola University in Chicago before coming to SIUE. "It's not enough for schools of Nursing to simply graduate more nurses. We have to look at the future, to examine and understand what the role of the nurse in patient care is going to be."
The SIUE School of Nursing offers programs throughout the central and southern portions of the state, including the newest facility in Springfield. Maurer said she and the staff and faculty of the school are also creating new clinical partnerships in the Springfield area. "We're there for the long term," she said.
The outreach effort in Springfield is part of a comprehensive strategy to address the nursing shortage. "One of the reasons we have a shortage is that the perception of a career in nursing has changed," she said. "For a variety of reasons, nursing fell out of favor as a career. That's changing. A lot of people don't realize how rewarding nursing can be, both personally and professionally. Obviously, from a personal standpoint, helping other people has its own rewards.
"But, what is sometimes lost in the discussion is that lots of nursing jobs are available right now, where the economy has caused layoffs and stagnation in other professions. Also, several recent studies show nursing careers rank favorably on the list of salaries for new graduates."
The school works with more than 300 clinical agencies, collaborating with rural, suburban, and urban health-care providers to help meet the health care needs of the region. SIUE was the first nursing school in the region-and one of the first in the country-to use human patient simulators as teaching tools.
"We like to think we're on the front line," Maurer said. "Our goal is to not only keep our curriculum and our technology current, but to continue to look for ways to be on the forefront of education … to keep our faculty and students on the leading edge of the learning curve."
Pride: Illinois supporters of SIUE can show their pride with SIUE license plates, now available through the secretary of state's office. The license plates carry the SIUE Cougar logo. The cost for a plate is $118 for the first year, and $105 for each year thereafter; $25 from each plate purchase goes to the SIUE Alumni Association Legacy scholarship fund. The typical cost of a renewal is $78. Anyone who wants a plate can apply right away or as current plates expire; if you're purchasing a new car, your dealership can apply for you on a first-time registration. Collegiate plate numbers are assigned as applications are received. Vanity or personalized plates are not available. For more information, contact the Secretary of State's office, special plates division at 217-785-5215, or your local Secretary of State facility. (SIUE Photo)
When students meet for the first day of the Television Production Workshop at SIUE, they may see a familiar face. Their instructor will be Professor Riley Maynard of the Department of Mass Communications and he has nearly as much experience in front of the camera as he does behind it.
The workshop, part of SIUE's SummerArts 2004 program, is open to high school students and runs from noon to 3 p.m. June 14-25. Maynard, who has 34 years of experience producing news and corporate videos, said students in the workshop will produce newscasts and create commercials.
Even with all of his production credits, Maynard's work in front of the camera as a performer in commercials is what makes him more recognizable. With more than 200 commercials and ads to his credit, Maynard has honed his craft as a performer. His most recent commercials are one for Hardee's restaurants ("I didn't get to eat the hamburger like Mark McGwire"), and one hawking bobblehead dolls for the St. Louis Rams football team.
"I've done dog food ads and a lot of beer ads," Maynard said. "I've done just about all of the Anheuser-Busch beer products … AB commercials are always classy, high budget productions," he explains. "In the dog food ad, the dog had the speaking role. He had a better agent," Maynard says with a laugh.
Maynard's first on-camera role was in a corporate video for Anheuser-Busch Sea World. "I played a truck driver and a tour was going through the brewery. A little boy said 'who are those people?' And his mother said: 'they're actors.' And he said: 'cool.' "
But it hasn't all been "cool." Another AB commercial depicted Maynard standing in a cornfield in August playing a farmer. "The light wasn't just right so they brought out these (electric) lights and they cooked me," he recalls.
Not all of his work has been in commercials. "I was the cover boy for Angelica Uniform Company. I was on the cover of the catalogue modeling a bright orange jumpsuit known as 'correctional facility apparel.' That was the funniest ad I ever did," he said.
Maynard said one of the worst assignments he's ever had was when he was asked to say: Call Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at 1-800-…-…, plus a tag line, all in five seconds. "I felt like a Vegematic salesman," he recalls.
His 23-year career at SIUE began with the intent to stay a year. "I came here on a one-year contract to replace (now Emeritus) Professor Jack Shaheen when he left to go on a Fulbright Scholarship. I never left except when I went on my own Fulbright," he says.
Even though he is an educator, actor, producer, and instructor for SIUE's Television Production Workshop, Maynard isn't looking for accolades. "I'm not a renaissance man … more a victim of circumstance."
For more information about the Television Production Workshop, call (618) 650-2245. or, from St. Louis toll-free, (888) 328-5168, Ext. 2774. SummerArts 2004 is part of the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences.